Who were the “sons of God?”


Who were the “sons of God?”

Article Review

 

INTRODUCTION

This essay is structured to review three articles from the viewpoints of whom “the sons of God” are.   Genesis 6:2 states, “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”[1]  For many years people have attempted to define the correct interpretation of this passage of text.  We will look at three articles in particular for the benefit of interpreting this passage.  This passage makes the average Christian wander aren’t all men sons of God?  However, why didn’t the author write, “sons of men?”  So who were these sons of God that the author is referring to and are they any different than you and I?  Are they angels who were cast out of heaven and creators of the many different other religions and idols worshiped on earth?  Are they kings living at that time who claimed to be gods on earth? Were they godly men of the Sethite linage?

First Article

We will first take a look at an article by Bryan T. Huie, entitled “The Sons of God in Genesis 6.”  In this article Huie maintains that the ‘sons of God’ are fallen angels.  Huie states, “the fallen angels consorted with human women, producing giant offspring called nephilim (Heb. נפילים).  This view was widely supported by Flavius Josephus, Philo, Eusebius and many of the ‘Ante-Nicene Fathers,’ including Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Athenagoras and Commodianus.”  Huie continues by suggesting other advocates of this theory were Julius Africanus, Saint Augustine (the Catholic Bishop of Hippo), and further states it is standard of rabbinical Judaism.  The author makes statements of these men without quoting any of their works until he gets to a translation of the Jewish People by first century CE historian Flavious Josephus, translated by William Whitson.  Josephus ascribed to the theory that fallen angles had begotten sons with the daughters of man. Josephus as translated by William Whiston, “For many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants.”[2]   Whitson believed that this was standard of antiquity and so Huie has taken this to be factual evidence of universal belief during the first century.  Huie then goes on to utilize non-canonical books of historical accounts to Christian history; the book of Enoch, the book of Jubilees, and the Genesis Apocryphon.  Contending the totality of angels being the “sons of God’ entirely on the writings of anyone but prophets and scripture has made a very thin case.  However, Huie does attempt to take the Hebrew translation of the words “sons of God,” and show how it translates throughout the Bible to show his belief being correct.  When he started interweaving: the non-canonical books to make his point,” Let’s go back to 1 Enoch to see what these fallen angels did that affected the human race enormously”[3]; quotes the Book of Jasher then admits its corrupt,” While it’s evident the copy of this book that has survived to our time has been corrupted to some extent, the Scriptures seem to confirm the information contained in this section of Jasher”[4]; believes Tartarus in Greek Mythology to imprison the Titans is directly referenced by Peter, “In his second epistle, the apostle Peter uses part of this Greek myth to explain the fate of some of the fallen angels.  He states that for their sins, these angels had been tartarosas, which The NKJV Greek English Interlinear New Testament translates literally as “confining them to Tartarus” (also known in the Bible as ‘the Abyss’).”[5]  The author Bryan Huie does a lot of research and background in order to connect a wide array knowledge and great writings to conclude his theory.  He believes that there is overwhelming evidence from the text he has found as it correlates to each other to contend the “sons of God” were the wicked angels whose offspring were a race of giants.  Albeit exciting and interesting enough, it just doesn’t have enough biblical support in scripture and relies on to much external believers of the same theory in order to make its points.  So we shall move onto a different viewpoint of the “sons of God.”

Second Article

Mr. Meredith G. Kline gives us a picture of sacral kings who with their pagan ideologies believe themselves “the sons of God” and/or their pagan gods.  The first section of Kline’s article is merely a designation of critique on modern interpretations of the passages of Genesis 6:1-4.  The author interprets, “From the titulary of this pagan ideology of divine kingship the term בְּנֵי־הָאֱוֹּהִים was appropriated in Gen 6:1–4. Support for the interpretation of the בְּנֵי־הָאֱוֹּהִים as kings is found in the use of similar titles for theocratic rulers in Israel.”[6]  Kline points to the evidence of Psalm 82:7, “But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”[7] He believes this suggest that they are being given, “a divine warning of their mortality.”[8]  Kline’s utilizes support for his theory by pointing to the expression “daughters of man”, taken from the Aramaic Targums and Greek Symmachus. What this means is that Kline is stating that the daughters are women in general, not limiting them to just Cainite women.  I believe this is a huge distinction because it makes Kline’s point specifically different from others.  He goes on to utilize Cain as the beginning of the genealogical history for the kingship and traces it forward.  Kline stated, “Outstanding representative of the Cainite dynasty was Lamech. Concerning his court life it is recorded that he practiced bigamy (Gen 4:19) and of his royal enforcement of law it is witnessed out of his own mouth that his policy was one of tyranny, a tyranny that reckoned itself through the power of the sword of Tubal-Cain more competent for vengeance than God himself (Gen 4:23, 24).”[9]  So you can see how the biblical context of the kingship correlates the theory for a solid account to his presupposition of sacral kings.  Meredith Kline goes into extreme detail utilizing the context of the Hebrew language as it is correctly translated throughout from Adam to Abraham.  The striking takeaway is that it does not change any account or biblical teaching of pre-flood or post-flood accounts.

Third Article

The most in depth study of all the articles was done by Leroy Binney who did an exegetical study.  Binney takes his study verse by verse, but we will focus on the specific passage of scripture assigned and the content most relevant to study.  Mr. Binney breaks “sons of God” interpretations into categories by stating, “Those who take the term b²enê̂ hāʾĕlōhîm, “sons of god,” to mean the chosen portion of mankind, the Sethites, usually consider ‘daughters of men’ by contrast to be the unbelieving Cainite women. Those who take the ‘sons of God’ to be nobles or princes may take the “daughters of men” by contrast to be commoners. Those who take the ‘sons of god’ to be angels take the “daughters of men” to be women in general.”[10]  After making these points, Binney points to Kline’s interpretation of “the daughters of men” and its usage of women in general.  One of the greatest debates with “the sons of God,” is with the Book of Enoch and its reference from Jude.  Here is a big biblical issue at heart, how do explain Jude 6-7? Let’s look at the evidence, Jude 6-7“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”[11]   The other verse Binney wants to look at is 2 Peter 2:4, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”[12]  This is the apologetics point that you have to be able to understand.  Binney asserts that Jude speaks of fornication and not marriage which is what is referred to in Genesis 6.  This may seem like splitting hairs, but we are using a microscope on scripture and we have gone beyond hair splitting magnification.  Binney explains that the angels in 2 Peter were the same ones that took place before the fall of man, since it refers to them as sinning.  He further points to the fact that the Bible has no other place in which a defection of the angels occurred.  There is no scripture on intermarriage of man and angels or vice-versa daughters of men and angels.  Binney states of these scriptures, “The interpretation that the “sons of god” were angels must be considered untenable because it is not supported by II Peter or Jude, it is contrary to the Biblical view of the nature of angels, and the punishment for their crime fell upon men rather than upon angels.”[13]  So if we are left we no biblical way to support the angels having fornicated with the “daughters of men,” then where does that leave us.  Binney summarizes his point, “The most common view of orthodox interpreters has been that the ‘sons of god’ were the men of the godly Sethite lineage. Usually this view considers the ‘daughters of men’ to be women of the ungodly Cainite lineage, but in accord with our exegesis above, the ‘daughters of men’ could mean women in general. Then the sin would be that the Sethite men were marrying without distinction to whether the women were believers or not, or that they were marrying polygamously.”[14]  What is most interesting about this view is it allows for the divine kingship view to be expressed as Kline interpreted.  The reason why this belief is so widely accepted is because of the following: it means “the sons of God” are men of the Godly line; Israel is the son of God and the chosen people are His children; warning of marrying of unbelievers is maintained as one theme of the Pentateuch; all parties involved in the sinful marriages are human beings; “the sons of God” are the Sethite men (a corruption leading to the flood); and it follows the Pentateuchal concept of spiritual sonship.[15]

Closing

In conclusion I find myself happy to find an interpretation that supports biblical inerrancy.  I believe Leroy Binney had the most comprehensive interpretation of scripture.  I believe “the sons of God” are men.  I will be honest, before doing this essay and research I had some belief in the theory that “the sons of God” could have been angels.  It made since from a practical standpoint.  To me it explains why there are so many different religions and mythologies.  Why wouldn’t the fallen want to do all they can to corrupt us and dilute our belief in God by introducing others?  I thought maybe they had powers they brought here to earth that they were able to use like Satan does and mislead us.  However, I believe I have been most mislead by science fiction movies and hopes for what just sounds real cool.  The truth is that the terminology gets skewed like many places in scripture by people who want to believe the Bible is not the total inerrant and the infallible Word of God.

A thought provoking idea

The “sons of Gods” had sons who were giants on earth.  Elmer Towns states, “Jewish teachers in the Old Testament and most of the church fathers believed the sons of God were sons of God were angels who came down and cohabited with women on the earth. The results were, ‘There were giants on the earth’ (Gen. 6:4).”[16] Just because the Word of God refers to giants here does not implicate that the sons of God were angels and here is a very biblical reasoning for why you cannot use that as biblical reasoning.  We know for a biblical fact that Goliath is a giant in biblical context.  Now if we take scripture to interpret giants on earth to mean they had angels as fathers, we would be suggesting an angelic lineage survived the flood.  Otherwise we cannot completely surmise angelic fatherhood to any or all giants referenced in the Old Testament.  I wouldn’t want you to take my word for it because I am flawed in every way as a sinner.  We should look to the Word of God and I look to Jesus Word in Luke 17:27, “They did eat, they drank, they married wives, and they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark and the flood came, and destroyed them all.”[17]  Plain and simple, Gods Word said that all people were destroyed.

Footnotes


[1] C.I. Scofield, ed., The Scofield Study Bible: KJV (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1909).

[2] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, trans., The Antiquities of the Jews (www.gutenberg.com: Project Gutenberg, 2009), EBook #2848.

[3] Bryan T. Huie, “THE SONS OF GOD” IN GENESIS 6, http://www.herealittletherealittle.net/index.cfm?page_name=Genesis-6-Sons-of-God (accessed February 4, 2013).

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Meredith G. Kline, “Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1-4,” Westminster Theological Journal Vol.24, no. 2 (May 1962).

[7] Scofield, The Scofield Study Bible: KJV.

[8] Kline, “Divine kingship and genesis 6:1-4.”

[9] Ibid.

[10] Leroy Binney, “An Exegetical Study of Genesis 6:1-4,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Vol.13, no. 1 (Winter 1970).

[11] Scofield, The Scofield Study Bible: KJV.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Binney, “An exegetical study of genesis 6:1-4.”

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Elmer L. Towns, Bible Answersfor Almost All Your Questions (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson,, 2003).

[17] Scofield, The Scofield Study Bible: KJV.

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